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The Lessons Americans Refuse To Learn From Trump’s Tax Returns


Asked about The New York Timesnovella-length article analyzing his last 18 years of federal income tax returns, President Donald Trump said: “It’s fake news. It’s totally fake news. Made up, fake.”

That hasn’t stopped people from discussing Trump’s inventive accounting, to a chorus of sputtered outrage by Trump’s legion of critics, the vast majority of whom miss a simple point: The tax code is a big, complicated mess because major-party politicians—including those Republicans who insincerely promise to fit the entire form “on a postcard”—like it just fine that way, and voters do not punish them for perennially exacerbating the exasperating status quo.

So argue Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward on this week’s Reason Roundtable podcast. The gang also previews tomorrow night’s presidential debate (including those unfairly excluded from it), grapples with the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, and makes a number of editorially questionable sound effects.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music: “Jesse’s Carnival Waltz” by The Great North Sound Society.

Relevant links from the show:

Trump’s Tiny Tax Bill,” by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Libertarian Party Candidate Jo Jorgensen: Don’t Waste Your Vote on Trump or Biden,” by Nick Gillespie

Congress Continues to Spend Delusional Amounts of Money,” by Veronique de Rugy

On Health Care, the 2020 Presidential Race Pits Bad Ideas Against Bad Faith,” by Peter Suderman

Amy Coney Barrett Condemns Purdue University’s ‘Fundamentally Unfair’ Adjudication of Sexual Assault Claims,” by Jacob Sullum

It’s Official: Trump Nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court,” by Billy Binion

Amy Coney Barrett and the Problem of Conservative Judicial Deference,” by Damon Root

Amy Coney Barrett Thinks the Second Amendment Prohibits Blanket Bans on Gun Possession by People With Felony Records,” by Jacob Sullum

Amy Coney Barrett Demolishes the Qualified Immunity Claim of a Detective Accused of Framing a Man for Murder,” by Jacob Sullum

Partisan Poppycock Does Not Trump the Constitution on SCOTUS Picks,” by Jacob Sullum

Antebellum Is Empty Social Commentary Disguised as a Horror Movie,” by Peter Suderman

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About The Author

Matt Welch

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit

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